The Porn Star and the Evangelist
The adult film star talks about his unlikely friendship with Christian preacher Tammy Faye Messner.
Of all the friends I made on The Surreal Life, I probably had the best connection with Tammy Faye. Which was ironic, because we were the two people nobody expected to get along. She was an evangelist preacher and orthodox Christian, and I was a porn star. Not exactly a match made in heaven. But Tammy and I bonded. She recognized that I wasn't such a bad guy after all, and though she never approved of my line of work, she respected me and always treated me fairly. She even told Larry King and other interviews how much she liked me (and my pet turtle). When I brought Rick James on the show (one of his last public appearances before his untimely death), it was as a gift to Rob [Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice], who was a longtime fan. What TV viewers never got to see was Rick singing and playing the acoustic guitar. For some reason, WB never used this footage. He sounded so good, Tammy Faye got out of bed (it was late at night), and joined the rest of the cast on the couch, to hear him sing. I think she even sang with him. A really great moment.
Tammy and I kept in contact after The Surreal Life ended. I even arranged for a reconciliatory phone call between her and her one-time nemesis, Jessica Hahn. Jessica, as you may remember, was the one-time church secretary who slept with Tammy's former husband, PTL televangelist Jimmy Bakker. For years, Tammy partially blamed Jessica for destroying her marriage, and they had a fued in the media. But the dust had settled, and both women were ready to speak to each other at last.
All they needed was a push in the right direction from a friend.*